Only Olivia Fan Club

One Woman's Journey Tour 1999

Olivia Fills Theater With New, Old Magic

By THOMAS KINTNER

Fortunately for the announced crowd of 3,000 that showed up to see her at the SNET Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford on Friday night, its memories were safe in the hands of the charming Australian as she delivered the highlights of her catalog as the warmest of reminiscence.

Popular pianist Jim Brickman promised the audience ``a night of romance'' as he opened the show with a 45-minute set of his melodramatic tunes. Although his one-trick style marks him as a sort of ivory- tickling equivalent to saxophonist Kenny G, his fluid, melodic style went over well.

He mixed up instrumentals such as the drippily atmospheric ``Remembrance'' with jingles his lyric- inclusive tunes, stopping frequently to plug their albums of origin and his planned December Bushnell stop. His penchant for loading up renditions was clear when he closed with ``Rainbow Connection,'' wringing it of more emotion than the Muppets ever did.

Although it is hard to imagine a cross section of the public cheering at the mention of the film ``Xanadu,'' plenty roared in approval when Newton-John named it after starting her show with a pair of tunes it spawned, its title track and the 1980 No. 1 hit ``Magic.'' She recalled her early days as a genre singer with the flute-edged country of ``Please Mr. Please,'' and looked back almost 30 years when she offered her initial hit ``If Not For You.''

She absolutely radiated pleasantness at every turn, even when the show did not go as planned. When she skipped onstage to start the show only to find her microphone not functioning, she simply smiled and asked the band to start again. When she broke a small purse that held her wireless transmitter while prancing about the stage during ``You're The One That I Want,'' she chatted with the crowd while a roadie tried in vain to secure it to her oufit. She made a point to smile at and touch the hand of each of the many who came to the stage bearing gifts, all while negotiating favorites like ``Have You Never Been Mellow.''

Most important to the two-hour, 27-song show was that none of it seemed dated, not its hardly-looking-50 star, not her still-clarion voice, and not its songs. She noted the age of the crowd when she guessed most had exercised to 1981's ``Physical'' before she sang the tune, but even for such long-familiar material she still had energy to spare. For all the times she has done ``I Honestly Love You'' it remained pretty, a new memory at night's end for spectators to add to the old.

This review ran in the Hartford Courant August 22, 1999 for the show at Wallingford, CT

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last updated January 13, 2003